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A true Bluffton classic

Who are these two interesting gentlemen and what's with the bottle?

A true Bluffton classic, perhaps taken in the 1880s ... this tin type photograph offers many questions and few answers. However, here is what we do know:

Howard Raid had this tin type, which measures 2 inches wide by 3 ½ inches tall. It was given to him by an unknown previous owner.


We guess Howard obtained it during the Bluffton centennial in 1961, as he chaired that event and by the nature of the office received many artifacts that residents had but didn’t know what to do with. On a hunch, we believe this is one of those artifacts.


Howard was the kind of person who never threw anything away, and if he knew who the models were, he’d have written their names on the back and added the donor's name. He didn’t know them, and thus, didn’t write names on the back, or the donor's name.

So, these two unknown gentlemen’s names were lost even in 1961. Eventually, Howard handed this this tin type and others in his “unknown” collection to Dick Boehr, the next caretaker generation of Bluffton sacred things in need of identification and protection.


He guarded this tin type as best he could for several decades, hoping but knowing that no stranger might walk into his office and identify the two men.

Then, he handed it over to Fred Steiner, knowing Fred's interest in Bluffton mysterious memorabilia. However, Fred, also had no idea of the identity of these men either, since all of his sources from this era are no longer living.


But, Fred had the capability of enlarging the tin type and enhancing it so everyone can examine it closely. An attempt to focus in on the label of the bottle of hootch, however was unsuccessful – sadly. 

Fred’s assessment of this image follows:


Let’s assume these two men are brothers and at one time lived in Bluffton. We can safely assume they are not Swiss farmers. If they were, Samuel Amstutz would have taken their photo instead. He didn't.

So, they are somehow connected to the Village of Bluffton.


Admittedly these two guys look as if they just now rode into town on a rickety horse-drawn wagon.

If the photo was somehow discovered in a western state antique shop, there might be an attempt to connect these men to Wyatt Earp or his relatives.


And, just for fun, we’ve attached two actual photos of Mr. Earp to prove our point.


Back to reality, whatever caused this photo to be taken, we think it is an impressive work of art, seriously. It’s well posed, with a hand on the shoulder. The two are well dressed in seemingly home-sewn outfits.

For whatever reason, they wanted a photo taken. The bottle in the hand of the man in the chair adds a charming touch. Why was the bottle important? What was in the bottle?


And, quite honestly, we believe their great-great-great grandchildren may be walking Main Street at this moment.

We also believe that Will Triplett had fun and enjoyed posing these two gentlemen.


Note: It’s a slow news day and the writer of this explanation admits some poetic license in this description, however he stands by the statement that this tin type is a true Bluffton classic in all respects.

Judge for yourself.


Below are two actual photos of Wyatt Earp. There is absolutely no connect to Mr. Earp and the the two gentlemen above except for an uncanny resemblance and photos from the same era.



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